Authors: Andrew Peterson
For my brother
A Brief Introduction to the World of Aerwiar
he old stories tell that when the first person woke up on the first morning in the world where this tale takes place, he yawned, stretched, and said to the first thing he saw, “Well, here we are.” The man's name was Dwayne, and the first thing he saw was a rock. Next to the rock, though, was a woman named Gladys, whom he would learn to get along with very well. In the many ages that followed, that first sentence was taught to children and their children's children and their children's parents' cousins and so on until, quite by accident, all speaking creatures referred to the world around them as Aerwiar.
On Aerwiar there were two main continents divided by one main ocean called the Dark Sea of Darkness. By the Fourth Epoch, the harsh land east of the sea had come to be known as Dang and has little to do with this tale (except for the Great Evil that came to exist there and waged a Great War on pretty much everybody).
That evil was a nameless evil, an evil whose name was Gnag the Nameless. He ruled from high atop the Killridge Mountains in the Castle Throg, and of all the things Gnag despised in Aerwiar, he most hated the High King Wingfeather of the Isle of Anniera. For some reason no one could guess, Gnag and his wretched hordes had marched westward and gobbled up the Shining Isle of Anniera, where fell the good king, his house, and his noble people.
Unsatisfied, the Nameless Evil (named Gnag) built a fleet that bore his monstrous army westward across the Dark Sea of Darkness to the continent of Skree. And he ravaged that wide land, nine long years before our adventure begins.
A Slightly Less Brief Introduction to the Land of Skree
he whole land of Skree was green and flat. Except for the Stony Mountains in the north, which weren't flat at all. Nor were they green. They were rather white from all the snow, though if the snow melted, something green might eventually grow there.
Ah, but farther south, the Plains of Palen Jabh-J covered the rest of Skree with their rolling (and decidedly green) grasslands. Except, of course, for Glipwood Forest. Just south of the plains, the Linnard Woodlands rolled off the edges of all maps, except, one would suppose, those maps made by whatever people lived in those far lands.
But the people who made their homes on the plains, at the edges of the forest, high in the mountains, and along the great River Blapp, lived in a state of lasting, glorious peace. That is, except for the aforementioned Great War, which they lost quite pitifully and which destroyed life as they knew it.
In the nine years after Skree's king and all his lordsâin fact, everyone with a claim to the throneâhad been executed, the people of Skree had learned to survive under the occupation of the Fangs of Dang. The Fangs walked about like humans, and in fact they looked exactly like humans, except for the greenish scales that covered their bodies and the lizard-like snout and the two long, venomous fangs that jutted downward from their snarling mouths. Also, they had tails. Since Gnag the Nameless had conquered the free lands of Skree, the Fangs had occupied all the towns, exacting taxes and being nasty to the free Skreeans. Oh, yes, the people of Skree were quite free, as long as they were in their homes by midnight. And as long as they bore no weapons, and they didn't complain when their fellow Skreeans were occasionally taken away across the sea, never to be seen again. But other than the cruel Fangs and the constant threat of death and torture, there wasn't much to fear in Skree. Except in the Stony Mountains where hairy bomnubbles crept across the land with their long teeth and hungry bellies, and across the frozen wastes of the Ice Prairies where those few who made their home there battled snickbuzzards daily. Farther south, the Plains of Palen Jabh-J were as safe as they were beautiful, except for the ratbadgers that slithered through the tall grass (a farmer from South Torrboro claimed to have seen one as big as a young meep, which is about the size of a full-grown chorkney, an animal that stands about as high as a flabbit).
Before roaring over Fingap Falls, the River Blapp was wide and peaceful, clear as a spring, and the fish to be caught there were both delicious and docile, except for the many fish that were poisonous to the touch, and the daggerfish that were known to leap into boats and impale the stoutest fisherman.
An Introduction to the Igiby Cottage (Very Brief)
ust outside the town of Glipwood, perched near the edge of the cliffs above the Dark Sea, sat a little cottage where lived the Igiby family. The cottage was rather plain, except for how comfortable it was, and how nicely it had been built, and how neatly it was kept in spite of the three children who lived there, and except for the love that glowed from it like firelight from its windows at night.
As for the Igiby family?
Well, except for the way they always sat late into the night beside the hearth telling stories, and when they sang in the garden while they gathered the harvest, and when the grandfather, Podo Helmer, sat on the porch blowing smoke rings, and except for all the good, warm things that filled their days there like cider in a mug on a winter night, they were quite miserable.
Quite miserable indeed, in that land where walked the Fangs of Dang.